Today we finish the book of Judges. We have a quarter of the reading plan behind us! And today, we have but one chapter to read (it’s a good opportunity to double up and start to get caught up if you’re behind).
It is the conclusion of a dark time in Israel’s history. We left off with the battle between Benjamin and the rest of Israel, with Benjamin being all but eliminated. Our reading today begins with the vow by Israel that they will not give any of their daughters to the tribe of Benjamin as wives (21:1). As they lament what has happened, they ask God “why has this happened” (v. 3). The book has already given us the answer. Sin upon sin upon sin.
And nothing is going to change very quickly. As if there has not been enough devastation in Israel, we see that there was another oath that was taken that whoever did not join Israel in battle against their brother Benjamin would be put to death (v. 5). In verse 7 we see the effects of one oath, and in verse 10 the effects of another. Sin. Notice that Israel finds a “work around” to their oath in verse 14, and then another in verses 19-22. Sin (see Num 30:2). The chapter ends with a commentary on not just this chapter, but the entire book. There was no Godly leadership, so everyone did what was right in their own eyes (v. 25).
We see throughout the book that even though God carries out rehabilitative judgments against Israel, His grace does not end for His people. They sin, they repent, they sin, they repent, and through it all, He sovereignly directs all things for His purposes, and for their good. He provided deliverers – saviors – that saved His repentant people. He judged sin as the righteous Judge of the universe. And He does not change, so this all points forward to the Savior Who saves God’s repentant people, and Who will righteously judge the world.
But there’s more. The book points us forward to a coming king. The repeated “there was no king in Israel” is preparing us for most of the remaining history of Israel as a monarchy. As God promised through Moses, Israel will ask for a king (Deut 17:14-20). But even the kings will fail. So what we are going to read in the rest of the Old Testament serves much the same purpose as the book of Judges. Judges points us forward to a king. The whole Old Testament points us forward to the King.